Chancellor George Osborne increased the point at which people start paying income tax to £10,500 in today's Budget, and raised the 40p tax threshold by 1%. He also merged tax-free cash and share Isas into a single scheme with a £15,000 annual limit. Beer duty was cut by 1p a pint. Cigarettes will go up but a hike in fuel duty was dropped.
BUDGET: GROWTH FORECAST REVISED UP
Britain's economy is growing faster than that of any other advanced country and growth forecasts for 2014 have been revised up to 2.7%, said George Osborne in his Budget speech. The UK economy will pass its pre-crisis peak later this year. This year's budget deficit has also been revised down to 6.6%, and the government is on course to post a surplus by 2019.
NEW £1 COIN TO FIGHT COUNTERFEITING
The Royal Mint has unveiled designs for a new £1 coin which will come into circulation in 2017 and is designed to be the hardest in the world to counterfeit. Three per cent of pound coins currently in circulation are thought to be fakes. The new coin has 12 sides, reminiscent of the pre-decimal threepenny bit.
MCCANN POLICE HUNT ALGARVE SEX ATTACKER
British police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal in 2007 are hunting a man who sexually assaulted five girls in Algarve apartments between 2004 and 2006. The man, tanned with dark hair, is believed to have been involved in at least eight other break-ins at villas where British families were staying.
RUSSIA THREATENS WEST OVER SANCTIONS
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, yesterday told US secretary of state John Kerry that sanctions imposed on Russian and Ukrainian officials over the Crimea row were “unacceptable” and warned him there will be “consequences”. Vice-president Joe Biden yesterday accused Russia of a “land-grab”.
TONY BENN TO SHARE THATCHER HONOUR
The Queen has been asked to give permission for the body of the late Labour politician Tony Benn to lie overnight in a chapel in the Palace of Westminster before his funeral, just as Baroness Thatcher’s body did. Benn’s body would not be lying in state, as it would be a private event for his family, not a public one.
AIR FRANCE FAMILIES WRITE MH370 LETTER
Relatives of victims of the 2009 Air France crash have written an open letter to the families of the 239 missing passengers of Malaysia Airways MH370, urging them to demand more of their governments and expressing dismay at the contradictory and "vague" information given them by the Malaysian government.
STONES DELAY TOUR AFTER SCOTT DEATH
The Rolling Stones, who yesterday cancelled an Australian gig after it emerged that singer Mick Jagger’s girlfriend had apparently committed suicide, have now postponed their entire seven-date Australia and New Zealand tour. Jagger is said to be “struggling to understand” how L’Wren Scott could take her own life.
GUT BACTERIA MAKE CHOCOLATE HEALTHY
Bacteria in the human gut ferment dark chocolate into useful anti-inflammatory compounds, US scientists have found. They suspect that adding fruit to dark chocolate could make the reaction even more beneficial. The bacteria enjoyed cocoa powder during tests, but dark chocolate should have the same effect.
HOT TICKET: VENICE MASTER VERONESE
A major exhibition of the work of "sumptuously grandiose" Venetian master Paolo Veronese opens at the National Gallery today. Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice features 50 works by the artist including key religious and mythological paintings, frescos and alter-pieces. "An utter joy," says The Guardian. Until 15 June.